And as we enter Black History Month, the NFL usually is gearing up for the Super Bowl. For two weeks, we celebrate everything great about the league. Instead, the ugly truth of the NFL is at the forefront. Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Bears, Broncos, and Giants allegedly racial bias in their hiring practice. Even though Flores led the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in almost two decades, the team fired him last month, and since teams have been hesitant to employ him.
The events unfolded when Bill Belichick texted Brian Flores congratulations had hired Brian Daboll before his interview. Flores, confused, found out the Giants were only interviewing him to meet the Rooney Rule. The rule is a policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. However, it is just a sham rule, and the evidence is clear. Giants had no real intent to hire him even after his success. More impressive given other recent allegations.
He also said Ross made an extraordinary effort to ensure that the team would lose to get a higher position. “That was a conversation about not doing as much as we needed to do to win football games,” Flores said Wednesday in an interview on ESPN. “Take a flight, go on vacation, I’ll give you $100,000 per loss, those were his exact words. I deal in truth; I tell the players this, as well. I’m going to give you good news, bad news but, I’m going, to be honest.”
The lawsuit does more than pull back the curtain on his experiences with racial discrimination in the league. It provides a damning portrait of a culture that has systematically failed Black coaches and executives. As the ball begins to bounce, other coaches have stepped up to describe their experiences. Black coaches feel teams set them up to fail. An Organization seeks higher draft picks for the future, hurting the coach. Former Browns coach Hue Jackson may join the lawsuit.
“You take jobs to win, and your contract says win, so you don’t get paid for losing. Then here I am after being 1-31, kept the third year, and given a contract extension that nobody knew. That should tell everybody something right there,” Jackson told ESPN.
Owners, for the most part, hire familiar people. There is only one owner from a minority background in the NFL. In recent years, it’s not necessarily a massive disparity between coaches of color and white coaches. But the expedited rise of white coaches and the experience gap between them and their Black counterparts with longer résumés. Certain coaches are passed over every year for others with fewer qualifications. Considering what happened to Colin Kaepernick, there is a good chance Flores will not coach in the NFL again. And if a black head coach who guided a franchise to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 20 years can’t find a job, who can?